Tue - Sat, 12 - 6PM / 212.937.6580 / 540 W 21st St. New York, NY 10011
The New Romantics is an exhibition exploring the ways in which contemporary artists using digital media engage the body, representations of nature, poetic irony, and expressions of individuality as originally expressed in 19th Century Romanticism. By drawing equivalences between then and now, this exhibition identifies a critical precedent for artists today that are responding to their ever changing technological environment. Just as the Romantics responded to the industrial revolution, this group of artists are similarly responding to the current information revolution.
Curators Claudia Hart, Nicholas O’Brien, and Katie Torn have put together an exhibition that illustrates the diversity and complexity of contemporary digital production. In doing so, The New Romantics presents a unique selection of works by artists not based on formal similarities, but on expressive affinitinties. By employing a myriad of contemporary techniques - including digital fabrication, 3D simulation, software-based collage, video game engines, and peer to peer networking tools - the artists in this exhibition expose an underlying thread of individual expression that extends beyond mere tech-fetishism.
To further illustrate the multitude of ways in which comparisons between the past and the present can be understood, Eyebeam will host a series of events in tandem with the exhibition. These will include an evening of performances on 24 April 2014, and a catalog release and reception event to be held during the closing week of the exhibition.
Mark Beasley, Tim Berrensheim, Alexandra Gorczynski, Ryan Whittier Hale, Claudia Hart, Jeremiah Johnson, Brookhart Jonquil, Sophie Kahn, Alex M. Lee, Sara Ludy, Shane Mechklenburger, Jonathan Mognahan, Mikey McParlane and Michael Mallis, Brenna Murphy, Nicholas O’Brien, Jaakko Pallusvuo, Jon Rafman, Nicolas Sassoon, Jasper Spicero, Kate Steciw, Katie Torn, and Krist Wood.
ATOM-r (Mark Jeffrey and Judd Morrissey), Zach Blas, Ann Hirsch, Miao Jiaxin, Mikey McParlane, and Vincent Tiley.
Ingrid Burrington is an artist and writer who writes, makes maps, and tells jokes about politics, places, and all the weird feelings people have about them. She lives in New York.
The success of today’s booming biometrics industry resides in its promise to rapidly measure an objective, truthful, and core identity from the surface of a human body, often for a mixture of commercial, state, and military interests. Yet, feminist communications scholar Shoshana Amielle Magnet has described this neoliberal enterprise as producing “a cage of information,” a form of policing, surveillance, and structural violence that is ableist, classist, homophobic, racist, sexist, and transphobic.
Biometric machines often fail to recognize non-normative, minoritarian persons, which makes such people vulnerable to discrimination, violence, and criminalization: Asian women’s hands fail to be legible to fingerprint devices; eyes with cataracts hinder iris scans; dark skin continues to be undetectable; and non-normative formations of age, gender, and race frequently fail successful detection. These examples illustrate that the abstract, surface calculations biometrics performs on the body are gross, harmful reductions.
A visual motif in biometric facial recognition is the minimal, colorful diagrams that visualize over the face for authentication, verification, and tracking purposes. These diagrams are a kind of abstraction gone bad, a visualization of the reduction of the human to a standardized, normalized, ideological diagram. When these diagrams are extracted from the humans they cover over, they appear as harsh and sharp incongruous structures; they are, in fact, digital portraits of dehumanization.
Face Cages is a dramatization of the abstract violence of the biometric diagram. Diagrams are fabricated as three-dimensional metal objects, evoking a material resonance with handcuffs, prison bars, and torture devices used during slavery in the US and the Medieval period. The virtual biometric diagram, a supposedly perfect measuring and accounting of the face, once materialized as a physical object, transforms into a cage that does not easily fit the human head, that is extremely painful to wear. These cages exaggerate and perform the irreconcilability of the standardized, neoliberal biometric diagram with the materiality of the human face itself–and the violence that occurs when the two are forced to coincide.
Facial Weaponization Suite protests against biometric facial recognition–and the inequalities these technologies propagate–by making “collective masks” in community-based workshops that are modeled from the aggregated facial data of participants, resulting in amorphous masks that cannot be detected by biometric facial recognition technologies. The masks are used for public interventions and performances. One mask, the Fag Face Mask, generated from the biometric facial data of many queer men’s faces, is a response to scientific studies that link determining sexual orientation through rapid facial recognition techniques. Another mask explores a tripartite conception of blackness, divided between biometric racism (the inability of biometric technologies to detect dark skin), the favoring of black in militant aesthetics, and black as that which informatically obfuscates. A third mask engages feminism’s relations to concealment and imperceptibility, taking recent veil legislation in France as a troubling site that turns visibility into an oppressive logic of control. These masks intersect with social movements’ use of masking as an opaque tool of collective transformation that refuses dominant forms of political representation.
The internet, once associated with openness and decentralization, is increasingly understood in terms of control exerted by government agencies (like the NSA) and advertising (targeted ads). What is less commonly discussed is how this subliminal control is embedded in interface design. In this special event Eyebeam alum Mushon Zer-Aviv will argue that web interfaces demand our silent obedience with every page load. Through a talk and a presentation of a few recent projects, Mushon will offer new approaches to challenging the politics of the interface. Mushon will be followed by Helen Nissenbaum who will discuss the tactic of obfuscation as a subversive response to surveillance interfaces; she will present some highlights from the recent Obfuscation Conference at NYU and together with Mushon present their current collaboration with Daniel Howe, the AdNauseam browser extension. The event will be moderated by Rhizome editor and curator, Michael Connor.
Reception – 6:00PM
Panel discussion – 7:00PM
Eyebeam residents Ebru Kurbak and Irene Posch will present their work The Knitted Radio, made over the course of the 2013 Fall/Winter residency program. Following the presentation the artists will hold a conversation with interdisciplinary artist, designer and researcher Orkan Telhan.
The Knitted Radio is part of an ongoing investigation towards using traditional textile crafting techniques to create electronic components and devices from scratch. The overall investigation questions whether ‘what’ one makes is really more important than ‘how’ one makes things. The tactile piece manifests how to knit a sweater that is also a FM radio transmitter. By equipping the wearer with the ability to occupy electronic space, the casual knitwear intends to inspire local, free communication structures. The experiment is dedicated to the diverse crowd involved in recent Gezi Park protests in Taksim Square, Istanbul.
The accompanying pop-up exhibition will be on display until 2 March 2014.